Daddy's Girl

7:30 AM

Because I’m not getting enough sleep at night by writing this post over and over again in my head, I’m just going to say it. It will be the grand finale to our two weeks of controversy. Then—perhaps—we will move on to more light-hearted things, like exercise regimes and preschool and dancing pink elephants.

Since we stumbled upon the business of exposing the core beliefs of stay-at-home daughters, homemakers-in-training and married-girl-wannabes, we would miss out on the full picture by not tackling the father/daughter relationship.

Sign off now if you like. Read on if you dare to be challenged. I frustrate my own self.

A wife’s most beautiful adornment is submission, submission with a meek and quiet spirit very precious in the sight of God. Peter puts out the example of Sarah, who “obeyed Abraham, calling him lord” (1 Peter 3:6). Egalitarian cheap shots at a wife’s call to submit cannot topple the clear teaching of Scripture, unless one twists the Apostles’ arms behind their backs and calls them chauvinist bigots. Interestingly, I noted two clear examples of a husband’s authority over his wife, both regarding the birth of children. Sarah, of course, wins the prize as notable obedient wife. With her son, the Lord revealed to Abraham, her husband, that she would bear a child, in a clear acknowledgement of the oneness of husband and wife and the husband’s authority in that oneness. Another is Elizabeth, whose miraculous son’s birth also was told to her husband Zechariah before she found out—again, I would argue, a clear appeal to the husband’s headship.

Even more interestingly, in the case of the betrothed yet unmarried Mary, her father was not consulted on the birth of the Messiah. He’s not even mentioned in the story. Her future husband was alerted, of course, but according to Jewish law, he didn’t have legal authority over her yet. She was still in her father’s house.

Someone pointed that out to me the other day, and I use it not as a primary defense on my following views, but as a launchpad for my primary point: the patriarchal view behind stay-at-home daughters dangerously muddles the family relationships, downplaying the wife/mother’s role, blowing up the father’s role and confusing the clear role of the daughter.

As a quick disclaimer, this is not an attack against stay-at-home daughters. I plan on using the home as my default place of residence, both because I desire Christian accountability and I see no benefit in renting an apartment alone with a couple of cats. I would be bored to death and might take to eating Lays and watching soaps. I’m only slightly joking, but my point is that what I don’t want you taking from this is, “Bailey says girls can’t stay home”—no, not at all. What I’m going to be arguing against is the idea that girls should stay home, that they are obligated to, that their primary place is right alongside their father.

You know, the Bible never lays out specific patterns of behavior for a daughter to her father or a son to his father or a daughter to her mother or a son to his mother. Nowhere does the Bible equate the daughter’s relationship to her father as a special, kingdom-enhancing relationship. But the Bible does very explicitly lay out the duties of children to their parents. While under our parents’ authority as children (i.e., until we are supporting themselves alone), we are to obey both our father and our mother.

There’s much talk about submitting to one’s father as training ground for submitting to one’s husband, which does have a logical connection, but that should not be the sole reason for staying home. Our obedience to our parents has little to do with our future relationship to our husband but everything to do with our obedience to God. Ephesians 5:21—“submitting to one another out of reverence to Christ”—prefaces chapter 6 on parent/children relationships, and indeed the rest of chapter 5 on husbands and wives. “Children,” Paul instructs, “obey your parents in the Lord.” Obedience to our parents is practical obedience to the Lord. And the parent/child relationship is not to practice husband/wife relationships but to instill “the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Not to say of course that obeying our parents doesn’t cultivate an obedient, submissive spirit imperative in marriage but that it’s narrow-minded to view the father/daughter relationship solely or primarily on those grounds. Our married lives may never occur except in our daydreams or they may be cut short by death, but our duty to obey to our God and His instituted authorities will never end. A submissive and obedient spirit models Christ’s submission to His heavenly Father—it’s a beautiful testament to the world, in stark contrast to the self-centered culture, and reflects the life-death to conform to Christ.

If a child leaves his father’s home, either by marriage or by setting up one’s own household without the financial support of his father, obedience no longer applies. The command now shifts to a different, though no less serious, command to “Honor your father and your mother.”

Whatever the age or situation of the child, the parent/child relationship is a critical one with long-lasting implications. Solomon instructs his son to listen to his counsel and the wisdom of his mother, adorning himself in their life-protecting grace. A healthy, honoring relationship both in and out of the home is a must for anyone claiming the name Christian.

Notice that there isn’t specific commands to daughters to stick beside their daddy in thick and thin until marriage, to support his vision with her whole unmarried life and to treat him as “her man.”

What we do have is the serious command to obey and honor both parents. There’s no need to emphasize the father, no need to create a special, life-binding relationship to him. Certainly today’s culture doesn’t value dads very much, so special attention on ways to honor and respect one’s father are helpful, but it’s not as if mothers are held in any higher regard. Both have authority over the child as long as she is in the home; both have honor due to them.

Now it’s absurd to think that a daughter’s relationship to her father will look exactly like her brother’s relationship to their dad. I believe women were created with a special emphasis of God’s nature in them, being the more supportive, helpful, nurturing half of mankind. A father will greatly respond to respect given him by his daughter—as will any man respond to a respectful woman. It’s in the man’s nature to receive respect; it’s in the godly woman’s nature to give it. So honoring one’s father will look different than honoring one’s mother, and it is perfectly acceptable to make the distinction between what honors a man and what honors a woman.

One of the things that bugs me about the view that a girl is bound to her father until marriage (and I say that because I used to believe the same thing) is that its creates an either/or fallacy: either you stay home and honor your father or leave home and dishonor your father. Whether it’s in the short-term like a missions trip or a college adventure or a long-term ministry opportunity outside her father’s walls, a girl—so the subconscious attitude goes—is dishonoring her father.

I think this is wrong for two reasons. First of all, a daughter doesn’t have to be her father’s sub-helpmeet in order to honor him and support his vision. Just because I don’t believe in the patriarchal view of the father/daughter relationship doesn’t mean I don’t care about my father and his vision. I love to discuss the things my dad loves—I love to encourage him in his ministries and interests—I’ll even suspend my boredom with sports when he’s around, simply because I love and respect him. I’d do that for any brother in Christ, but especially for my father.

Secondly and ironically, this patriarchal view doesn’t actually care about a particular father’s preferences. It’s mainly what other stay-at-home daughters’ fathers think and then applied to what all dads should think, thus maintaining a set-in-stone pattern of father/daughter relationships. So we pity girls whose dads tell them to go to college or get a job, mourning with them that their fathers stepped outside the pattern and thus forced their daughters to do so as well.

This goes against the very beliefs stay-at-home daughters want to obey. Did anybody care to ask my dad whether he wanted me to do with my life, regardless of what a Vision Forum father might say to his daughter? No—it’s assumed that all truly godly fathers will support the exact same stay-at-home daughter vision for all of their girls. Those who support this patriarchal view hinge a daughter’s proper preparation for marriage and life goals on the father/daughter relationship. We have little to offer girls whose fathers are absent, don’t agree with stay-at-home daughter paradigms or are deceased. In essence—though not in exact words—we relegate them to a sort of amputated daughter trying to run the proper course without being entirely whole. We applaud them for their desire; we support their entrance into college or the workforce or ministry as pitiable exceptions; but they, so our belief system goes, will never be hardcore stay-at-home daughters.

But I say that perhaps God gives daughters different fathers so that different things could be accomplished for His kingdom. Does your father want you to stay home? Seriously consider that as God’s call for your life. Does your father want you to go to college? Seriously consider that as God’s route for you.

And not just your father—what about your mother? While the death or absence of a father is serious and greatly affects a girl’s life, her mother is still her God-given authority—not just a replacement in case the father cannot operate.

I Still Want to Know…

So what is a daughter’s relationship to her father supposed to look like? Check back to the fifth commandment and the requirements to obey your parents (not just your father) as a child. I think it’s perfectly acceptable for a girl to remain at home until marriage or until the Lord calls her elsewhere—and if she does, she must submit to her father as head of the house and submit to her mother as queen of the castle. Any adult—daughter, son, stranger—who places herself under the protection of the head of the house and uses his resources and earnings must abide by the rules set in place. I don’t think a daughter must double-check everything with her father in the same way a wife would with her husband; I don’t think she must view the home as her territory and her father as her man; but certainly she must establish rules with her parents and agree to abide by them, as well as seeking their counsel.

Peronally, my parents will allow me more independence once I turn eighteen. I’m not obligated to submit to every decision, but if I wish to remain under their protection and authority and live in their house, I must keep an open dialogue with them about my life. Ultimately I will decide (at the Lord’s direction) what ministry I do, what hobbies I take up, how I spend my time and other big things like who I marry and whether I will remain at home. However, in light of the fifth commandment and my parents’ wisdom, I don’t plan on using that independence irresponsibly. Why wreck my life when I could ask my parents for godly counsel? However, they recede from the position of telling me what to do and instead fall into a full-time mentorship, with a special parental twist.

This may match what you and your parents decide. It may look nothing like it at all. I don’t judge you for the decisions you make. But daughters, one thing is clear: we best honor our Lord by honoring our parents and other wise counselors, instead of following self-determined, well-intentioned paths. If we take seriously the call to follow Christ, we will neither invent an extrabiblical father/daughter relationship nor ignore the biblical relationship between father and daughter. That is the first command with a promise.

p.s. Beautiful Sheila wrote this post in addendum to mine. Do yourself a favor and read it. I love this girl.

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24 impressions

  1. Amen, oh, amen, Lee dear. I could not agree more heartily to the entirety of this post, and I sincerely thank you for it.

  2. I liked this and I agree in many ways. I would like to add (not in any disagreement) that, though I don't wish to over emphasize my father's authority ("demoting" my mother, so-to-speak) it does sometimes play out that way in real-life application, as the husband is the head of the wife. Sometimes when my mother agrees with me, my father "vetoes" the idea. In other cases, when my mother disagrees with me or feels one way about a situation, my father gives the final verdict.

    I will say that this really doesn't happen very often at all at Eyrie Park, but that it does give a different...feel to my father's authority over my life and my mother's.

    All-in-all, great, gutsy post!


  3. Oh, thank you so very much for writing this! I get so irritated with the idea that a daughter is supposed to be her dad's help-meet. If that's the case, then I refuse, for the role of help-meet is my mother's and my mother's alone. I do not want to be my father's help meet; I want to be my husband's. It can actually make for a very awkward and messed up atmosphere/situation/relationship when a daughter tries to take over part of her mother's role. Thank you so much for tackling this and putting into words how I feel!

  4. Thank you for this beautiful resolution. I finally decided to weigh in on this discussion, because I think it's so very essential. :-) Here are my thoughts:

    God bless,

  5. Thanks so much for this post! It has always bugged me when people very candidly told me that the only way for me to honor and serve God was as a stay-at-home-daughter, and that going to college was not an option for a true Christian daughter. I never knew quite how to explain why I disagreed with that statement without belittling the father-daughter relationship, so thank you very much! :)
    Lol, as you know, I can be a bit scatter-brained at times so this will be very helpful in the future. :)

    Luv u!

  6. Wow, I guess I've always just accepted Vision Forum's stand on father/daughter relationships without really thinking about it. You know, it was one of those believing-it-just-because-this-group-of-godly-people-does type thing.


    Reading this really opened my eyes to that fact. It's a very brave, but right-on post.

    I applaud you for it.

  7. Loved this - explained things so perfectly on a subject that frustrated me profoundly. Thank you! :)

  8. Oh my word! Where do I start? I'll start by saying thank you! You did such a wonderful job of putting into words something that I've been pondering for quite some time now. You supported your position very well, and did it gracefully! I am impressed and appreciative! Many blessings, Elizabeth

  9. I have stopped reading most of the stay at home daughter blogs because I have found them so discouraging and really out of balance. You can't take a few words of scripture and build a whole doctrine. Besides, they just seemed to parrot one another. Thanks for having the courage to say what I've been silently screaming for awhile.

  10. Thank you, Bailey. Once again, this post made me think. My favorite quote:
    "Our married lives may never occur except in our daydreams or they may be cut short by death, but our duty to obey to our God and His instituted authorities will never end."
    Yes! Amen.

  11. Oh, yes. I agree. Tho I only normally meet such attitudes on blogs, they do affect me. I am thankful that my parents haven't required the "daughter as sub-helpmeet" mentality of me. That said, I work for my dad (painting houses) in the summer, and I love working with him. Aren't you so glad God doesn't ask us to live someone else's life?
    Anyway, enough rambling. :)

  12. Thank you for writing this!! this is pretty much exactly how I feel on the topic too.

    And like Everly mentioned, in the end the father is the ultimate authority in the household; at least in my mind. However, the Bible says to honor both parents and I really do think there has been way too much emphasis on father/daughter relationships in the patriarchal movement and it makes me feel bad for the wife/mother. Like she is being left in the dust and doesn't really matter =/

  13. "it does sometimes play out that way in real-life application, as the husband is the head of the wife. Sometimes when my mother agrees with me, my father "vetoes" the idea."

    Great point by Miss Pleasant.

    So, Bailey, you've told me what paradigms Scripture doesn't institute. Now I wish to know- what paradigms *does* Scripture model?

  14. I explained what the Scriptural model is in this post:

    - The father/husband is the head of the household and has the ultimate authority (and the veto power).

    - The mother/wife submits to his leadership while still holding authority over the children.

    - Children must submit to, honor and obey their parents. If they leave the household, they are still held to honor both parents.

    - All members of the household, both in their interactions with each other and with others outside the home, must honor and proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ. His vision is what must define the home and the children's destinies.

    For further information...see post above. :o) Just kidding. I will complete further thoughts in response to the comment you left on the other post....

  15. I shall look forward to same.

    And I agree with all of this. I shall specify my question a bit more-

    What is the Scriptural model for *daughters*? Is it just obey Dad, then honor Dad, then submit to husband? Or does Scripture give us more?

    If you end up answering this on the other thread then don't worry about responding here. :-)

  16. I get you now. The Scriptural model for daughters...actually, from what I've studied, there really isn't any beyond the points above that I've come across. There are Scriptural mandates for unmarried women but not really for daughters, per se. Unmarried women are called to devote themselves to Christ. It looks different for every single young woman.

    I'm very familiar with the arguments for a specific model but I do not believe they hold water. It's true that there was a working patriarchy in the OT, but I don't see that in the NT because the make-up of God's kingdom changed. Not changed. I don't quite have the word for it. But I mean to say -- not to discount OT Scripture, not to discount family -- that we cannot advance God's kingdom through patriarchy and dominionism. It's spiritual. And now we have the church, which isn't passed down through bloodlines or advanced through land ownership, politics or whatever. It's individual now. While I clearly see patriarchy both over sons and daughters in the OT, I don't see any mandate or example for that in the NT, in light of the new covenant.

    I really don't believe a daughter should be defined by her earthly father -- only her heavenly Father. Sometimes it overlaps. Sometimes it doesn't.

  17. OK, so we have some ground-level differences.

    Like, I believe in the Old Testament.


    But the Dominion debate can be shelved for another time.

    You ask good questions, and you had me stymied for a while there. So I talked to my Dad. I ain't stymied no mo.

    If you're going to argue from less than half of The Bible, I guess I'll concede the point. Wait, no, if you are going to say that *I* have to argue from less than half of The Bible, then I'll concede the point.

    And then promptly return to using The Whole Thing.

    Because without looking at the patterns that we see throughout the OT (and do not see repealed, recanted, reinterpreted, or otherwise addressed in the NT), not only will I be unprepared to address this argument, but lots of 'em.

    I say this with tongue-in-cheek, knowing that you accept the OT as Scripture as well- yet I say it in all seriousness, because in practice I'm not quite sure you do.

    Satire, you know. ;-)

    You say you don't see a mandate for SAHD-hood in the NT. I say if we see it in the OT and it isn't counteracted in the NT then the burden of proof is on those who wish to overturn the pattern modeled for us in the only Scripture that the early church had.

  18. Yes, we do have ground level differences. :o) One thing that bugs me -- and I don't mean this rudely -- is how SAHD advocates paint those who don't agree with them as less-than-Biblical, as those who throw out half the Bible. Frankly, the reason I do not consider myself a SAHD is because I believe in the Bible.

    I believe in the OT. I believe in the entire authority of the inerrant Word of God. Believe me when I say that I base my life and beliefs solely on the Word of God -- and I have no problem in admitting that others may look different than me. But I don't believe that everything in Scripture is meant for all times. Just because we don't practice animal sacrifice doesn't mean we reject the OT. It merely means that some things change -- and some things have changed much due to the new covenant.

    So the question isn't whether it's "in the Bible" but how to interpret those Biblical models, mandates and messages against the entire fabric of Scripture. I'm a staunch amillennialist, so this is something I'm used to thumping on my premillennial brethren. ;o)

    But actually, I don't see a mandate for SAHDhood in either the OT or the NT. Daughters and sons staying home, sure. Israel was a covenant community. Patriarchy was the culture of the time. Life was agrarian and multiple households stuck together for survival. Simply because daughters and sons stayed home doesn't mean that they're required to.

    And why mandate this for the girls? The sons stayed with their families until marriage too back in the OT and usually after, but nobody argues that therefore they ought to continue doing so. Nobody requires sons to stay home in order to learn to be proper husbands by practicing on their sisters and mothers.

    With all respect and in regards to the entire Word of God, I feel that the burden of proof lies with those who preach SAHDhood as a mandate.

    I actually do know of a case where a Biblical model was "overturned" in its absoluteness by introducing an exception to the rule, but we can argue that later. ;o)

    Gabriel, I a woman. I am a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. My womanhood is not found in the home, in marriage, in motherhood or in my biological make-up. It is found in the express image of God yet very often (or always) expressed in those above things. This is the biggest ground level difference I have from many in the SAHD movement. My purpose is found in serving the Lord Jesus Christ -- right now as a daughter in my home, perhaps later in a different venue, perhaps in marriage, perhaps not.

    My goal is not to prepare for marriage. It's not serving my father. It's not babysitting my siblings who I love to death. Since I'm in the home, I do learn from my mother, minister with my family and encourage all those in it.

    My goal is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in whatever capacity He has called me. I do not see a mandate or model for a specific way to do that in the Scripture.

    Perhaps I speak too harshly. I mean no disrespect, brother. But I wish you could see that the Lord works in many ways, that He has called each woman, each daughter, to a specific ministry. It is a very dangerous thing to presume to speak for every single Christian due to a perceived model with little to no Scriptural backing. I know that is not how you see it, but that is how I see it, and I cannot subscribe to something I do not feel is necessarily Biblical.

    I know where you're coming from. I've been there. I would be arguing the same thing. I do not have everything figured out, and in the end, I may end up looking just like a SAHD. I'm not against SAHDhood: I'm for freedom to serve the Lord. Please consider, prayerfully, what I am saying -- please consider your sisters in Christ who are struggling to the serve the Lord in the way He has called us.

  19. Bailey, I really appreciate the compassionate and loving tone with which you're discussing this with me.

    To discuss the OT issue real quick. I know you believe in The Bible. When we come to look at the New Testament we must realize that It's written by and for people whose worldviews have been set and saturated by the Old Testament (with exception of the non-Jewish Christians, who were still exhorted to study The Scriptures).

    Discussing this with you has been really good for me. I've had to think, and my perspectives have changed. I've been edified. Thanks. :-)

    I agree more with you now than I did at the outset. I am much more willing to see that there are exceptions than I was before.

    And that brings me to the thing that still bugs me.

    I still see SAHD-hood as the Biblical norm (both in OT and in NT). Women having a man placed in their life by God as a covering- be it a father or a husband.

    And moving directly from the one to the other, respectively.

    If your point is just that there is room left by Scripture (particularly by the "singleness" passage) for exceptions to this general rule, then I agree.

    But there's an undertone here which seems to go just a step beyond this.

  20. Thank you, Gabriel, for being the gentleman you are. I've had bad experiences with SAHD advocates, so it means a lot to me that you have been kind and humble.

    I agree that NT folks built off the OT. Where I disagree is that SAHDhood -- as is practiced today -- was mandated in the OT Scripture. I would be very willing to take those mandates into account, although they were OT mandates, but I am not yet convinced that it wasn't more than merely the culture at the time. So the issue -- for me, anyway -- isn't that there's a mandate that I reject because it's OT Scripture but that I do not see a mandate at all.

    Regarding the thing that bugs is a curious and sometimes frustrating deal on some levels, and on some levels it isn't. You're right -- I'm not only advocating for exceptions to the rule but that there isn't even a rule for daughterhood to except the exceptions. I believe that it can be Biblically defended that young people, until marriage, would be wise to stay with a family or under a family's protection, either their own or another. Two is better than one, etc. I just don't think it can be defended that a Christian -- even a young woman -- has to.

    I don't think it is entirely logical to take the special mystery relationship of marriage and then apply it to the father and daughter. That is problematic on many different levels. Even the Botkin girls admit that there really is no mandate for daughters, and so they extrapolate from the husband/wife relationship and apply it to male/female relationships in general. I don't think there's any Biblical warrant for this.

    Widows were never required to remarry or go back to their fathers' house (though many did). They are most certainly women, yet nobody insisted they have a male covering. The daughters of Zelophehad in Numbers 27 were fatherless, yet they were given land and not told to find a male covering. Paul commended many women -- widowed, unmarried and married -- who appeared to work alongside him without mention of a brother, husband or father.

    I think that women, as weaker vessels, should be especially cared for and that any true man of God would jump to look after them -- especially widows who were unable to provide for themselves and who had no one to provide for them. As a church, we are called to help these women -- as a body, as a family in Christ. Yet notice that even young women, apart from the general command to care for their widows, were explicitly told to care for their own widows. There again is no mention of the widow finding a male covering or seeking male help beyond her female relative.

    I certainly don't think that examples drive the norm -- either in OT or NT. However, I do think that in the absence of clear mandates and in the presence of such diversity, that there is freedom to make wise decisions that honor the Lord and take into account each individual's situation. For some women, it would not be wise to leave their homes or minister someplace without a male to protect them. For others, it may be necessary to leave their homes and minister without a "male covering."

    I appreciate the SAHDhood movement for highlighting that it is perfectly acceptable and sometimes very beneficial for a young woman to stay at home. Where I part ways is where they enforce not only that a young woman should stay home but exactly what she should be doing at home as well (i.e. serving her home and family exclusively and only ministering in the name of the father). I still think that staying home, and staying home in order to have a male covering, is still something very different than what SAHDhood typically advocates.

  21. You're right that they weren't mandates. But I argue that they were patterns. We see them in places like Num. 30 but really it was there at the very beginning- Genesis 1-3.

    So instead of presenting homemaking as an option among others, I would argue that it should be the presupposed position, and then if God calls a girl to be an exception then so be it- at that point we may pursue wisdom and explore how that plays out.

  22. I was about to reply and then realized I'd just be reiterating all the loooong comments I've left above. We're going to have to agree to disagree then. Otherwise we'll end up going in one crazy circle of disagreement. :o)

    Your thoughts are always welcome here. Thanks for the discussion! If you have anything else to add, feel free to do so.

  23. So be it, and thank you likewise.

    No, I have no new additions.

    For now.

    *evil cackle*

    I shall look forward to crossing paths again.

    I'll probably re-emerge from the mysterious corners of cyberspace to haunt your lovely blog in the future.

    Until then- you know where to find me. :-)

  24. As I said in another comment on another post I stumbled across then lost the place where it was at to see if you added any comment to mine....

    I do call myself by the SAHD label, but I believe Scripture (and my parents!) give me more freedom than the typical, straight-laced, my-way-or-no-way view many (if not most!) SAHD portray. For example- I work outside of the home. *GASP!* I said it! 14 hours a week I am working for others, outside of my parent's home. And they are just fine with it. God can use the time after graduation- the single years that might make up the rest of my life, for His glory any way He chooses. And I am very thankful to not feel the need to pattern my life after anyone's standards. God's are enough to live up too! (Said tongue in cheek of course, it is only by His working with in us that we can become more like Him...)

    Now I'll never find this post again to see if someone else has something to say..... ;)


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